How to Choose between Real-Time Database and Cloud Firestore?

How to Choose between Real-Time Database and Cloud Firestore?



16 May 2019

What is a Real-Time Database?

As the name suggests, this Firebase product ensures all the data are synchronized for all the clients in real time. The real-time database is a NoSQL database which supports platforms like iOS, Android and JavaScript SDKs. It syncs the data even if its offline by the help of caches available on the respective devices.

What is Cloud Firestore?

Also a Firebase product, Cloud Firestore is a flexible, scalable NoSQL database. Similar to Real-time database, it supports platform for mobile apps and web. Cloud Firestore syncs data on both server-side and client-side and can be used during offline. It is also supported and available on the Google Cloud Platform.

Difference Between Cloud Firestore vs Real-Time Database

  1. Scaling and Querying

    Real-time databases are NoSQL databases which stores data in JSON format. It stores simple data in an easy manner. But if the data is a complex one, the scaling can be very tough. Real-time database can scale upto 100,000 concurrent connections and 1,000 writes/second in a single database. While querying, the real-time database can only sort a single parameter. If multiple parameters need to run in a query, a lot of denormalization of data is required.

    Cloud Firestore stores simple data in documents that are similar to JSON. It is much easier to scale the complex data in the Cloud firestore. The data is organized as sub-collections inside the documents. Cloud Firestore can scale upto 1,000,000 concurrent connections and 10,000 writes/second in a single database. Querying in the Cloud Firestore is quite easier than that Real-time database as multiple parameters can be chosen and sorted in a single query.

  2. Reliability and Performance

    Real-time databases have only regional support. This supports databases only to limited zonal availability in a single region. The API is made only allow the operations that can be executed quickly which ensures the responsiveness for millions of users. It supports offline data for mobile platform apps i.e. Android and iOS. It allows writing the data into the device’s local disk so it can be available while offline.

    Cloud Firestore provides a multi-regional solution which scales automatically. This distributes the data in multiple data centers in different regions. This provides strong reliability and strong scalability to multiple users across the globe. It offers offline support for mobile platforms and web clients so that it will be responsive regardless of network latency or internet connectivity. It offers the scalability and reliability of the Google Cloud Platform.

  3. Security and Pricing

    Real-time databases have only one security option known as Firebase Database Rules. Here cascading the rules requires a separate validation. Read and write rules can cascade. However, it requires to validate data separately using the Validate rule. Firebase provides 3 types of pricing:- Spark Plan (Free), Flame Plan ($25/month) and Blaze Plan (As per the user’s requirement). It only charges only for bandwidth and storage and has a higher rate. Only Blaze plan offers multiple databases per project.

    Cloud Firestore has more powerful security. Mobile and Web SDKs has the Cloud Firestore Security Rules and the Server SDKs use Identity and Access Management (IAM) of Google Cloud Platform. Rules don’t cascade unless they have a wildcard (variables with the prefix as $). Data validation is done automatically. Cloud Firestore charges for bandwidth and storage at a much lower rate. But it also charges for operations performed in the database i.e. read, write and delete operations. Cloud Firestore supports plans for daily spending limits for Google App Engine projects to keep the prices in check.


Comparing cloud firestore vs real-time database, we clearly see that Cloud Firestore is a better database. Cloud Firestore can scale and handle complex data easily and is supported on the Google Cloud Platform. However, if we can use the Real-time Database for simple data. For Real-time Database the cost depends only on the amount of data is used and not on the number of API calls made which is applicable for Cloud Firestore. I hope this provides enough information for you to choose the right database.

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